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We were sitting on the balcony of our friend’s apartment in Hanover, just chilling out and chatting when a massive ball of blinking lights appeared in the night sky.
As the four of us watched, mesmerized, a mask appeared, which morphed into a skull, only to quickly dissolve and reform into a waving German flag.
“What the Hell is that?”
“Are those fireflies? Christmas lights? Shooting stars?”
Personally, being the Harry Potter nerd that I am, I thought it was a Dark Mark and the Death Eaters had gotten another one.
Finally, our friend Lena realized, “Hey! Those are drones!”
So of course the next thought that crossed my mind was Holy crap! The machines have taken over! Run for your lives!
But before I could plan my escape from Skynet, Malte, Lena’s boyfriend reminded us they must be putting on a drone show for CeBIT, a massively popular consumer electronics conference that takes place in Hanover every year.
Oh good. The drone army isn’t going to take us hostage today. It’s just a show. Relax.
Watching a drone light show and hanging out with our friends was one of the highlights of our trip to Hanover, along with other experiences like:
Having been to Palais de Versailles, I’d seen the royal garden to top all royal gardens, so I had pretty high expectations. I was not expecting something so opulent in a lesser known place like Hanover, but this place blew us away.
The size of 50 football fields, this French style garden was laid out by Electress Sophia in the 17th century. And no, an “Electress” isn’t a title given to a robot wife or anything, it’s the wife of a German prince, who’s referred to as an Elector.
Sophia the Electress went out of her way to make sure this was a garden fit for royalty
But as pretty as this garden was, what made it more memorable for me was the scandal behind it.
Back in the 1600s, Sophie Dorothea, Princess of Hannover and niece of Electress Sophia (confusing, I know), had a secret affair with her lover, Swedish Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck. This garden was their frequent meeting spot.
Here’s the problem: Sophie Dorothea was already married to her cousin, George Louis, whom she hated. He also hated her, but they had to be married for political and financial reasons, so neither was faithful to each other. You know, a totally healthy non-dysfunctional marriage.
But in true chauvinist fashion, once George found out about Sophie’s affair, he went psycho and beat the crap of her, tore her hair out by the roots, and then had her lover murdered. The hypocrisy of his actions, despite the fact that he had multiple mistresses, was completely lost on him.
He then banished Sophie and imprisoned her in a castle for the next 30 years, forbade her from seeing her children and erased all memories of her in Hanover. Even after she died, he prohibited the court from mourning her, took over any property she had, and then refused to let her body be buried for 6 months.
She did manage to extract her revenge though, in death. Before she died she wrote a letter to George, cursing him. And remembering an old gypsy’s prediction that he would die within a year if he did anything to cause Sophie’s death, George quickly relented and let her be buried alongside her parents. 4 weeks later, he died suddenly of a stroke.
Karma’s a bitch, huh?
In addition to the historical royal gardens, Hanover also had it’s share of beautiful old buildings, like the:
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall)
My favourite part of this beautiful historic town hall is the 4 models of the city of Hanover during different time periods: historic, pre-war, war times, and modern times.
There’s also a curved dome lift that takes you up to see breath-taking views of the city. We didn’t get a chance to go while we were there because the sky was overcast but you should definitely go if you visit Hanover.
A 14th century church that was destroyed in the 2nd World War in an air raid, rather than repair it the city of Hanover decided to leave it destroyed and use it as a reminder of the horrors of war. This is a recurring theme in Germany, where rather than glorifying war they prefer to unflinchingly show the catastrophic aftermath as a warning to future generations.
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
This peculiar roofless structure housed not only a war memorial and a museum, but also a Japanese peace bell (or Bonsho) donated by Hanover’s sister city Hiroshima. Guess these two cities would know a thing or two about how the destructive power of war, and as a result both would prefer never to experience that again. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
In addition to all the history, Hanover it also had a ton of green spaces like:
Twice as big as New York’s Central Park, this city park is a refreshing reprieve for those who enjoy a run or bike ride to work. There’s also a cute little playground for families.
After the harrowing experience with the flesh-chomping deer of Nara, we had a much more pleasant experience in Tiergarden with friendly deer who stayed a safe distance away and didn’t try to kill me for a cookie
So I guess not all deer are bad. Just Nara deer. And only if you idiotically walk around with a whole stack of deer cookies.
This time I didn’t have food with me, so I didn’t have to worry as we admired these animals and enjoyed the serene sounds of the forest.
You can visit all these attractions and more by following the “Roter faden”or “Red Thread” which leads you on a self-guided 4.2 km walk to see 36 notable city landmarks.
We were fortunate to have been shown all that this city had to offer by our friend, Lena, who also shared with us her favourite sport: bouldering:
Although we’ve been getting our fair share of cardio while travelling, we hadn’t had enough time to gain muscle so this was a great way to drop in and give those lazy arm muscles a work out.
My clumsiness ensured I got nice and bruised in the legs but, in the end, it was worth it.
If you like to challenge your brain as well as your muscles, bouldering is a great activity to build strength, agility and hang out with friends.
After we worked up a sweat, we earned treats in the form of:
The best fries in Hanover
German style cheesecake and jasmine tea:
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed Hanover, not just because it’s a charming city with lots to offer—whether it’s history, nature, or animals–but also because we got to hang out with our friends, Lena and Malte, from Chautauqua UK.
And I’m sure none of us will forget our memorable experience with Skynet–er I mean CeBIT– which takes place every year. If you’re a nerd, definitely check it out.
Just try not to freak out when the drones become sentient…
*ahem* So anyway, without farther ado, here’s how much we spent in Hanover:
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|Category||Cost in USD/couple||Cost in CAD/couple||Notes|
|Accommodations:||0||0||We didn't spend anything on accommodations because we stayed with our friends. Thanks guys!|
|Food:||$19 USD/day||$25 CAD/day ($22/day for eating out, $3/day for groceries)||Grocery prices were abnormally low because our gracious hosts treated us to their delicious cooking. In return we treated them for dinner and did some cooking of our own (though my skills as a chef are terrible, so I'm not sure I could call it treat")."|
|Transportation:||$13 USD/day||$16 CAD/day||Transportation average out to be around $16 CAD/day for the 5 days we were there, including the bus ride to Hanover from Bremen.|
|Entertainment:||$11 USD/day||$14 CAD/day||The only costs for entertainment was 8 Euros entrance fee each for the gardens and 28 Euros for 2 to use the bouldering gym and rent climbing shoes. There are lots of museums you can visit in Hanover as well, but we decided to opt out since I've been to so many museums all over the world already.|
|Misc (data + toiletries):"||$2.60 USD/day||$3 CAD/day||Miraculously, we still had data leftover from Las Palmas so we didn't need to buy any data, but we did spend 11 Euros (with tip) on a haircut from Wanderer. The Turkish barber was great–cheap, good, and fast.|
|Total:||$46 USD/couple/day||$58 CAD/couple/day||Now, don't get too excited–the per day cost for Hanover is abnormally low because of our awesome friends who let us stay with them. However, looking at the prices in Airbnb, you can get an apartment for $40-60 USD/night, so you'd still be under $100 USD a day per couple even if you didn't stay with friends. Hanover is definitely an awesome, affordable city.|